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C O G I T A M U S

The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. III, No. 1 March 2000

General Editors: Margaret Gilbert and Anne Hiskes. This issue edited by Anne Hiskes.

Welcome to the eighth issue of Cogitamus! It reports on the period of December 15, 1999 through March 31, 2000.

The next issue, to be published in early May, will report on spring news and summer plans. Please send items for the next issue by e-mail to anne.hiskes@uconn.edu.

Highlights: Two new faculty hires, annual news from alumni, and Austen Clark's Self-paced Phil. 102 course.

NEW FACULTY

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Bloomfield will join the department in September, 2000 as an assistant professor, and Dr. JC Beall will be join the department in Jan. 2001 as an assistant professor.

  • JC Beall received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts (1998), where he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation "A Defense of Materialism Against Attacks Based on Qualia" under the direction of Lynne Rudder Baker. JC's areas of specialization are Philosophical Logic and Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Language. He is the author of numerous published or forthcoming pieces on a variety of issues centered around logical paradox and theories of truth. JC is currently teaching at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) but remains a research associate at the University of Tasmania (Australia).

  • Paul Bloomfield received his Ph.D. in 1995 from Syracuse University, and is currently teaching at McGill University. His areas of specialization are ancient and contemporary moral philosophy, and metaphysics. His book Moral Reality is forthcoming from Oxford UP. Paul is also the author of four published articles on topics such as "Virtue Epistemology", "Prescriptions are Assertions", and "Of Goodness and Healthiness".

FACULTY

Publications

  • Susan Anderson has published a chapter "Do We Ever Have a Duty to Die?" in the book Is There a Duty to Die?, edited by Humber and Almeder, Biomedical Ethics Reviews, Humana Press, 2000.
  • Don Baxter's article "Hume's Puzzle about Identity," is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies 98 (March 2000), pp. 179-193, and his essay "Hume's Labyrinth Concerning the Idea of Personal Identity," will appear in Hume Studies 24 (1998).

  • Tom Bontly's review of Psychoneural Reduction: The New Wave by John Bickle (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998) will appear in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, March 2000.
  • Austen Clark's book, A Theory of Sentience published by Oxford University Press will be out in March 2000. Advance copies will be available that month. It should be available in the United States (through OUP-USA by May.

  • Tim Elder published "Familiar Objects and the Sorites of Decomposition" in American Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 37 (2000), pp. 79-89.

  • Margaret Gilbert's new book - Sociality and Responsibility: New Essays in Plural Subject Theory - has now emerged from Rowman and Littlefield, in paperback and hardback.

  • Joel Kupperman published "How Values Congeal Into Facts" in Ratio, n.s. XIII (March 2000), pp. 37-53.

  • Diana Tietjen Meyers' paper "Intersectional Identity and the Authentic Self? Opposites Attract!" has been published in Relational Autonomy, edited by Catriona Mackenzie and Natalie Stoljar, Oxford University Press, 1999. Her review of Breaking the Abortion Deadlock by Eileen L. McDonagh will appear in the April issue of Ethics. "Authenticity for Real People" will appear in the Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy this Spring.

  • Ruth Millikan's discussion with Robert Cummins on his book "Representation, Targets, and Attitudes" appeared in the January, 2000 issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. The article "Purposes and Counterpurposes: On the Evolution of Language and Languages" will appear in The Monist, Vol. 84, No. 3 in a special issue on "The Epidemiology of Ideas," edited by Dan Sperber. In the "oldie but goodies" department, Ruth's well-known article "More Mama, More Milk and More Mouse" is to be translated into Hungarian and reprinted in Laszlo Tarnay and Abdras Bocz, eds., Nyelv - Tudat -Evolucio, A Nyelv Kognitiv Megkozelitesei (Language, Mind and Evolution, volume II; Cognitive Approaches to Language), Tamas Polya, translator (Budapest: joint edition by the University of Pecs Press and Osiris Press). In addition, Oxford University Press is reissuing a paperback version of the book Spatial Representation, edited by Naomi Eilan, Rosaleen McCarthy, Bill Brewer (Blackwell 1993) that contains Ruth's essay "Content and Vehicle".

  • John Troyer's paper "Human and Other Natures: A Comment on Flack and de Waal" should appear shortly in Evolutionary Origins of Morality: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives a special volume of The Journal of Consciousness Studies.

Presentations

  • Crawford Elder presented a paper "Physicalism and the Fallacy of Composition" at the International Congress on Analytical Philosophy at the Turn of the Millenium, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1-4 December 1999.

  • In mid-December Margaret Gilbert spoke at the University of East Anglia, England, giving the talk "'Shared Values, Social Unity, and Liberty".

  • Joel Kupperman was a member of a panel with T.M. Scanlon, David Wong, et al. at the Brown University Conference on Normativity, Nov. 20, 1999 that discussed themes of the conference. On January 13 Joel presented "Losing Place: The Risks of Cosmopolitanism" at the Fourth East-West Philosophers' Conference in Honolulu.

  • On January 14 Ruth Millikan presented "Cutting Philosophy of Language Down to Size" at the Royal Institute of Philosophy, London as part of the Millennial Series Lectures. Several days later on January 18 she spoke at the Philosophy Department of the Central European University in Budapest on the difference between classifying and identifying. On February 23 Ruth gave her talk "Abilities" at the CUNY Graduate Center.

    April will also be a busy month for Ruth, when she speaks at the Dubrovnik Conference on the Philosophy of Science on April 10 or 11 (topic to be announced), participates in a two day roundtable discussion at an international conference on the Evolution of Emotion at Kings College, London on April 13 and 14, and then delivers "Kantian Reflections on Animal Minds" on April 15 and 16 at the international conference on the Evolution of Mind, also at Kings College, London.

  • John Troyer will read a paper "Utilitarianism and the Distribution of Happiness" at the conference "Utilitarianism 2000" sponsored by the International Society for Utilitarian Studies, Wake Forest University, March 24-26. He will also chair a session on "Consequentialism and Population".

Work in Progress

  • Susan Anderson has signed a contract with Wadsworth to author a book on the philosophical content of Dostoevsky's novels. The book will contain a discussion of the extent to which philosophy can be done through the medium of fiction. This will be Susan's third book in Wadsworth's "Philosophers Series.

  • Margaret Gilbert is currently on Sabbatical working on a book entitled Social Ontology and Political Obligation.

  • Diana Meyers is completing her book Gender in the Mirror: Imagery that Confounds Us, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2001.

Honors, Awards, etc.

  • In December 1999 Austen Clark won a $24,000 "Significant Impact" grant from the Institute for Teaching and Learning to convert the large lecture version of Philosophy 102, Philosophy and Logic, to a self-paced format. Most of the money will pay two computer science graduate students to design and implement a flexible database system for managing the many test items that are required to run a self-paced course. Other grant money is budgeted to hire a philosophy graduate student for the summer to help with putting current tests into the database and with writing new ones. A job description will be posted as soon as database details are settled. All past and current teaching assistants for Philosophy 102 are invited to apply. See "Teaching Innovations" for more information on this self-paced course.

  • Joel Kupperman was selected to participate in the (15 person) Liberty Fund Conference "Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 25 Years After", Cambridge, MA, Dec. 2-5, 1999.

  • Diana Tietjens Meyers is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Philosophy Department at NYU while on sabbatical from the University of Connecticut.

  • Ruth Millikan had been awarded a University of Connecticut Alumni Distinguished Professorship. She is the first woman to hold this honor which is awarded only once every three years.

Service to the Profession

  • Diana Tietjens Meyers is a founding member of a new feminist ethics organization -- FEAST (Organization for Feminist Ethics and Social Thought). She is serving on the Publications Committee of FEAST, which is planning to publish a new journal dedicated to feminist ethics. Diana also chaired a session on International Law and Human Rights at the APA convention in December.

Teaching Innovations

(As told by Austen Clark himself)

In December 1999 Austen Clark won a $24,000 "Significant Impact" grant from the to convert the large lecture version of Philosophy 102, Philosophy and Logic, to a self-paced format. Most of the money will pay two computer science graduate students to design and implement a flexible database system for managing the many test items that are required to run a self-paced course. (The system will be sufficiently flexible to help manage test items for any course; if you're interested, please inquire.) Other grant money is budgeted to hire a philosophy graduate student for the summer to help with putting current tests into the database and with writing new ones. A job description will be posted as soon as database details are settled. All past and current teaching assistants for Philosophy 102 are invited to apply.

In a self-paced (or Keller plan) course, work for the semester is divided up into a number of units, and one writes four to eight tests, parallel in form, for each unit. Students can take multiple tests on a given unit, until they achieve the score they want on that unit. They then proceed to the next unit, and this process continues until they either get the final grade they want or run out of time. A final grade is simply the average of best scores for each unit. Students can proceed as quickly as they like through this progression. When they get an average with which they are satisfied, they can stop.

Students love the format, and in my experience they also tend to learn more logic than they would otherwise. But it takes a lot in the work to set up such a course. The TAs do all the grading, but it is essential to provide a "coding frame" for every test giving answers, partial credit answers, and grading guidelines. The course also requires a textbook which is designed for self study. The text provides material for each unit, a study guide listing the skills to be mastered for that unit, a large number of exercises for each such skill, and answers for every exercise.

At any rate this process is all underway right now, in the current instantiation of the Philosophy 102 mega. If you'd like more details, see the Phil 102 web site.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Miscellaneous Items

Congratulations to Keya Maitra on her marriage to Mohammed Mohsin on February 14, 2000 in Staten Island, NY. Mohsin is completing his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Toronto, and Keya is completing her first year of teaching at the College of Staten Island.

  • Addendum to Cogitamus Vol. 1 No 7: Chris Panza presented the paper "Labor and Ideas: Conflicts in John Locke on Intellectual Property" (October 10, 1999) at the conference for "Group for Early Modern Studies" in Miami, FL.

ALUMNI NEWS

Steve Lahey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at LeMoyne College, and is finishing his book Metaphysics and Politics in the Thought of John Wyclif to be published by Cambridge University Press. He is also working on a translation of Wyclif's De Logica, and reads papers at conferences about the relation of Wyclif's odd metaphysics to his political theory and theology. In his spare time he works on a Philosopher's Book of Days with drawings of Philosophy favorites (nobody living--just dead philosophers,to avoid annoying/slighting favorite living philosophers). Did you know that Nietzsche went mad on 3 Jan. 1889? That Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason on 29 March 1781? That F.H. Bradley used to hunt cats at Oxford by moonlight with specimens taken from his vast collection of fire arms? Steve's wife Julia McQuillan still is teaching at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and as you can see, Steve has plenty of time on his hands.

Chenyang Li (Ph.D. 1992) has moved to the Philosophy Department at Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA., where he is Chair. He has recently finished editing his second book The Sage and the Second Sex: Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender, to be published by Open Court in June.

Jessica Prata Miller (Ph.D. 1999) will begin a tenure-track position at the University of Maine, Orono in Fall 2000 after 2 years as assistant professor at the University of North Florida. Congratulations to Jessica on the birth of her son David Henry on Dec. 9, 1999. Jessica describes the arrival of her son as a vastly more life-changing event than a new job.

Matt McKeon (Ph.D. 1994) has joined the faculty at Michigan State University as Assistant Professor where he will be teaching logic this fall. His publications include: "Bertrand Russell and Logical Truth" Philosophia, March 1999, Volume 27, 3-4: 481-93; and "Models, Validity and Possible Worlds", Logical Consequence: Rival Approaches, Ed. by B. Brown, J. Woods, and D. Gabbay (Oxford: Hermes Science Publishers), forthcoming.

Peimin Ni (Ph.D. 1991) published "Confucian Virtues and Personal Health" in Confucian Bio-Ethics, Ruiping Fan ed. (Kluwer 1999). The paper argues that Confucianism can be viewed as a health care system, and Confucian virtues are ways of maintaining and improving personal health. Peimin also published "Teaching Chinese Philosophy On-site" in Teaching Philosophy, 22:3, Sept. 1999, in which he discusses his experiences in teaching Chinese philosophy to American students on-site in China. This past summer Peimin led a delegation of the Association of Chinese Philosophers in America to China. They visited six top philosophy institutions in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan. At these institutions Peimin presented his paper "An Overview of Philosophy and Philosophy Education in America," which was also published in the leading Chinese Journal Zhexue Yanjiu [Philosophical Investigation], Aug. 1999. Congratulations are also due to Peimin for his nomination by his students and colleagues as Outstanding Teacher in 2000 at Grand Valley State University.

Rick Schubert (UConn B.A. and M.A.) got his Ph.D. from U. Cal Davis last June and has a tenure-track job at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.

Xinli Wang (Ph.D. 1999) is presenting a colloquium paper, "A Reconstruction of T. Kuhn's Taxonomic Interpretation of Incommensurability," at the American Philosophical Association, Central Division meeting in Chicago, April 21-23, 2000. (The acceptance rate of papers for this conference is 25%).

Chris Yalanis (M.A. 1998) sends greetings from the United States Air Force Academy where he continues to teach courses on ethics with some military applications. Perhaps his most exciting news is that Chris earned his "jump wings" last summer by jumping five times out of a perfectly good airplane at 4500 feet above ground level (AGL), and free falling for 10 seconds before opening his chute and gliding to earth. He recommends this to all philosophers as a way of clearing the mind.

Chris is currently preparing a talk "The Virtue of Obedience" to be given in April to his department. He attended the Joint Services Commission on Professional Ethics (JSCOPE) in Washington D.C. in Jan 00, where he hopes to present a paper next year, and has just returned from the annual APPE (Applied and Professional Ethics?) conference also in Washington D.C. In addition to teaching ethics courses, Chris is the Squadron Professional Ethics Advisor for 100 cadets. They meet twice a month to discuss ethical issues. But Chris's extra-curricular responsibilities do not end there. He is also the Forensics Team assistant coach which requires him to travel with the team. He coaches the Academy's National Ethics Bowl team which competed on 24 Feb and did very well. In appreciation of his efforts, Chris has been officially recognized as "Company Grade Officer of the Quarter for the Department of Philosophy" (twice in 99) and "Company Grade Officer of the Quarter for the Humanities Division".

C A L E N D A R

Wednesdays at noon: our regular Brown Bag Series of informal philosophy talks continues.

UPCOMING Colloquia:

  • Friday, March 10 at 4 PM.
    Speaker Dan Lloyd, Trinity College.
    Topic: Geometries of Mind and Brain.
    Place: Manchester Hall, Basement Lounge

  • Friday, March 31 at 4 PM.
    Speaker Colin Allen, Texas A&M University.
    Topic: Animal Concepts
    (A "Cognitive Science" colloquium)
    Place: Manchester Hall, Room 227

  • The Parcells lecture lecture will be given by Professors Ted Sider (Syracuse Univ.) and Eli Hirsch (Brandeis Univ.) . The talk will be held on Friday, April 28 at 3:30 P.M. in Room A112 South Campus Honors Building. A. Clark's suggested title: "Equal Time on Temporal Parts"

This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's Program Assistant Shelly Burelle. Please visit our website at: http://vm.uconn.edu/~wwwphil where this Newsletter is located for miscellaneous links, including links to abstracts, and colloquium updates.

Any questions or comments should be directed to Shelly at philos1@uconnvm.uconn.edu.


Department of Philosophy
U-2054, 344 Mansfield Rd.
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-2054
Telephone: 860-486-4416
Fax: 860-486-0387
Email: philos1@uconnvm.uconn.edu
Website: http://vm.uconn.edu/~wwwphil